Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network
Rollout of the National Broadband Network

CHORAZYCZEWSKI, Ms Yolanda, Group Regulatory Manager, Telstra Corporation

CLARKE, Mr Julian, Director, Workplace Relations and Policy, Telstra Corporation

SHAW, Mr James, Director, Government Relations, Telstra Corporation


CHAIR: I apologise for the delay. There were four divisions in the House. I now welcome representatives of the Telstra Corporation and thank you for returning to Canberra tonight to give evidence after having the same problem arise a few weeks ago. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I advise you that these hearings are formal proceedings of the parliament and warrant the same respect as proceedings of the respective houses. The giving a false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of parliament. The evidence given today will be recorded by Hansard and attracts parliamentary privilege. Would you like to make an opening statement?

Mr Shaw : Thanks. Given the circumstances, where last time we did have an opening statement prepared, which we subsequently provided to you and which I believe has been accepted as a formal submission, we do not have an opening statement to make, so that statement stands. There are just a couple of figures in that statement which I would like to revise for the committee. In the statement previously provided we indicated that there were 2,830 training attendances in the last two months of the financial year. That figure should have read 2,826, so that is a reduction by four. That comprised, according to a previous statement, 892 attendances relating to structural separation. That figure should have been 1,890. We previously advised that 936 attendances related to other curricula. That figure should have been 936. They are only small variations, but we did want to put correct figures on the record. Other than that, I think all the important matters which we sought to address at that time were covered in the opening statement, so we will just move on to questions.

CHAIR: Thanks. Senator Cameron.

Senator CAMERON: Mr Shaw, the committee was in New Zealand recently and we met with Chorus, who were doing the rollout of the fibre, mainly in the metropolitan area. They indicated to us that there would be no new copper laid in New Zealand. They were of the view that it is in their long-term interests for the copper to be turned off, and that they would eat up their own network as they progressively put the fibre out. Is that a similar position for Telstra?

Mr Shaw : The position we have taken on those matters are covered by the agreements we have reached with the government and NBN Co. through the definitive agreements, which is around the progressive closure of our copper as the fibre is rolled out and as customers migrated across. We recognise that we have agreements with the government under the TUSMA, the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Authority, to keep copper in place in the last seven per cent and continue to provide services on that last seven per cent. We also have an agreement with the government in respect of some greenfield sites where we will be deploying copper to those sites where there are less than 100 lots, in order to provide services to people prior to the NBN being in a position to roll out. So our position is that there will be continued deployment of copper in some instances and there will be a maintenance of copper network in some instances.

Senator CAMERON: What Chorus were indicating is that they had pressurised copper—the copper was pressurised in a sheath. I do not know whether you are the right guy to ask about this—

Mr Shaw : This may be one for taking on notice, but nonetheless—

Senator CAMERON: The pressurised sheaths caused significant problems if there was a breach in the sheath and the maintenance was very expensive, and that is why they were pleased to be moving away from what they described as the old technology to the new fibre technology. Do you have much sheathed copper?

Mr Shaw : Senator, that is one I think we will have to take on notice.

Senator CAMERON: Yes, take that on notice. Could you also then take this on notice: can you give us some idea of the problems with sheathed copper in relation to maintenance—just the general problems that you have. Chorus seemed to be quite open about their problems. You could maybe give us some idea on that. I want to go back to 12 November 2003—I like to test people's memory. Are you aware of a Dr Warren?

Mr Shaw : I certainly am.

Senator CAMERON: I think he was quite senior in Telstra.

Mr Shaw : He is certainly quite senior at the moment, yes.

Senator CAMERON: He is still with you?

Mr Shaw : He certainly is.

Senator CAMERON: In a Senate references committee back on 12 November 2003, under questioning from Senator Lundy about the copper network, Dr Warren said:

I think it is right to suggest that ADSL is an interim technology.

So he was pretty clear about that. He goes on:

It is probably the last sweating, if you like, of the old copper network assets. In copper years, if you like, we are at a sort of transition—we are five minutes to midnight.

Now if we were at five minutes to midnight in the sweating of the copper network in 2003, where are we now?

Mr Shaw : We are in the middle of a transition to an NBN under the definitive agreements which we have reached with the government and NBN Co., Senator, so we are progressively migrating off copper as the fibre is deployed.

Senator CAMERON: But that is not what I am asking you. Copper is still there.

Mr Shaw : It is.

Senator CAMERON: People are going to have copper for a few years yet.

Mr Shaw : And we will continue to maintain that copper in order to provide services to our customers.

Senator CAMERON: That copper that is left—where does that stand on Dr Warren's clock?

Mr Shaw : I would not like to venture into what Dr Warren's clock might look like, but I would just like to say that from where the company sits at the moment we see value in the copper as it currently sits and we will continue to provide services on that. But we are moving into an environment where, as the NBN deploys, we are looking to decommission that copper and provide fibre based services.

Senator CAMERON: So Dr Warren is still with you?

Mr Shaw : He is.

Senator CAMERON: What is his position now?

Mr Shaw : He is group managing director of corporate affairs.

Senator CAMERON: Okay. Can you take it on notice and maybe ask Dr Warren where we are on the Warren clock! Thanks.

Mr Shaw : Thank you, Senator. I enjoy asking my boss that question!

Mr HUSIC: Actually, you should play the video of this to him. The questioning in the video on YouTube would be just awesome.

Mr SYMON: I would like to ask—and I think this follows on from a question I have asked previously—about the status of the employees in the automatically eligible work group. I know some categories of employees have been identified, but what are they then going to be trained to do in terms of skills? Has that been identified?

Mr Clarke : I think the answer is that it has been identified to the extent that we know some of the things that we will require them to do. In the last financial year, I think we retrained 107 people in new skills, so they are actually trained completely and can do a new skill, and that was the installation and migration of customers from our network onto the NBN. So that is part of the curriculum that is there. We also know that there will be certain things we need to do in terms of operating and maintaining the network, and network planning and design. Then there are other curricula which we call value-add services, which are more about the types of things that we might be able to do for customers within their home, and those sorts of training programs are being designed at the moment. That might be connecting everything up in somebody's home so that it all works properly and those sorts of things. To an extent, it is a moveable feast. So there is what we know now, but in three or four years time there will be technological advances and there might be different things that we are retraining people for at that point.

Mr SYMON: Okay. Does every Telstra employee retrained under the AEW keep their employment with Telstra?

Mr Clarke : I do not think that we can say that.

Mr SYMON: Because some will leave anyway, you do not need that many or you have not identified that many places?

Mr Clarke : Because I do not think that we actually know exactly what we will need at the moment. It will depend on the rollout, the extent of what we are asked to do by NBN, how many customers we have at any given time—those sorts of factors. It is very difficult at this point in time to predict exactly what will happen in three or four years.

Mr HUSIC: Just following on from that, you are retraining them effectively to go from working with a copper HFC network to working with a network based largely on fibre—correct?

Mr Clarke : Correct.

Mr HUSIC: So it is not like they are being trained up on skills that they are not inherently working on within Telstra. It is not, for example, like you are retraining them into an entirely new vocation. It is within telecommunications. Correct?

Mr Clarke : That is correct, yes.

Mr HUSIC: If you then get work from NBN Co., as I think you were suggesting in some of your earlier comments, they can then work within Telstra on work that NBN Co. requires—for example, migration from copper to fibre?

Mr Clarke : Yes, depending on what the type of work was. But yes, in a general sense, I think that is correct.

Mr HUSIC: I am not going to speak for Mr Symon, but I think you may have thrown us when you said you do not know if you can retain them. Isn't the purpose—

Mr Clarke : The purpose of the deed is obviously to retain as many people as we can. We recognise that we have a very skilled workforce at the moment. We want to retain as many of those people as we can and we understand that is the purpose of the retraining. If you are asking me whether I can give a guarantee that every employee who is in the automatically eligible work groups will be retained, it is not something that I could be in a position to do now but more because I do not know what will be happening in the future.

Mr HUSIC: It is not so much a guarantee as Telstra's intention to those employees once retrained. That is safer ground for us to stand on and have this conversation.

Mr Clarke : I think our intention would be to retain as many employees as we can for the work that we actually have to do. It very much depends on what work is there as to the number of people that can be retained to do that.

Mr Shaw : I think it is fair to say that we are not designing this such that we retrain and then just exit employees. We like to keep our employees. We have invested a lot in them. Irrespective of the Commonwealth funding or taxpayers' funding, here under the retraining funding deed, we have invested a lot in our skilled employees out of our shareholders' dollars and we would like to continue to employ those people and utilise their skills to provide services to our customers.

Mr HUSIC: That would be the concern, Mr Shaw—that we are putting in $100 million and then they are just exited out of the operation.

Mr Shaw : I understand the concern.

CHAIR: Is the RFD a publicly available document?

Mr HUSIC: Or the agreement that you have come up with?

Mr Clarke : I do not believe it is.

Mr Shaw : I do not believe it is. No.

CHAIR: Is there a reason why not?

Mr Shaw : I am sure there is, if it is not a publicly available document!

CHAIR: The question is: can you provide the reason? It would be hard to build a commercial-in-confidence argument for retraining.

Mr Clarke : I think there are some aspects of the retraining funding deed, particularly some of the training detail and some of the numbers involved, that probably are commercial-in-confidence.

Mr HUSIC: Just to clarify: there are two documents. There is the overarching RFD and then the Telstra training plan.

Mr Clarke : Yes. That is right, but there is some detail in the RFD that goes to aspects of the training plan, if that makes sense.

CHAIR: So can you come back to us with the reasons why they are not publicly available documents and, even better, with whatever aspects you are comfortable releasing publicly if they are not commercially sensitive?

Mr Clarke : Yes.

Mr SYMON: In terms of the AEW and specific areas of need, is there a particular geographic breakdown as to where some skills are needed more than others?

Mr Shaw : Certainly, the skills mix changes as the NBN is deployed. So, in those areas where the NBN appoints network, we clearly have a greater need for people with fibre based skills and the ability to install and provide service on a fibre network. So that geographic breakdown will really just follow the NBN rollout.

Mr SYMON: Okay. So there would be no particular state-by-state difference if the NBN were being rolled out at an even rate across states?

Mr Clarke : Yes, I think that is correct, to the best of my knowledge.

Mr SYMON: It is a general question.

Mr Clarke : I am not a technical expert as to the rollout but, yes, as far as I am aware it is even.

Mr SYMON: I suppose the other question I have not asked along this line so far is this: under that retraining are there occasions when there are then positions available elsewhere but not necessarily local ones, particularly in regional areas?

Mr Clarke : I do not actually know the answer to that. I would need to take that on notice.

Mr SYMON: That is fine.

CHAIR: Mr Husic, back to the RFD?

Mr HUSIC: Yes. So you have retrained 107 employees so far and that was ahead of the actual formal acceptance of the training plan by government; is that correct?

Mr Clarke : Yes, that is correct.

Mr HUSIC: Which is great. How long is it taking? You have identified there are 6,000 employees in the AEW. How long will it take them, on average, to be retrained? That is obviously bearing in mind there are a range of competencies and they could be very individualised. What sort of average time is taken to retrain people?

Mr Clarke : I do not actually know.

Mr HUSIC: I want to get a sense of how long it will take all up to retrain that group of 6,000.

Mr Shaw : That is over the life of the deed.

Mr Clarke : Yes, that is over the life of the deed. That is the thing. It really will depend on what skills we actually identify as being required at any particular point.

Mr HUSIC: And that is an eight-year deed?

Mr Clarke : It is an eight-year deed, but the first tranche only actually covers a three-year period, so through to 30 June 2014.

Mr HUSIC: So it is conceivable that you would see employees added to the size of the AEW over those eight years; or do you see that, all up, the only employees that need to be retrained are those 6,000?

Mr Clarke : I suppose the training is for two groups. There is the AEW, and we expect that to stay relatively constant. It is that sort of 6½ thousand mark. But then there is also another group, which is those people who are not within the AEW area but who otherwise may face redundancy as a result of the NBN rollout. At the moment we do not have a good estimate of what that group will be, but then that group may fluctuate depending on exactly what happens in the future.

CHAIR: Those recent announcements on the cutbacks in Sydney, Melbourne, Townsville and beautiful Lismore—do they fit in to either of those two categories?

Mr Clarke : No, they do not. They were not connected at all with the NBN rollout.

CHAIR: So they cannot participate in any of the retraining at all?

Mr Shaw : Not under the deed.

CHAIR: So what are you doing?

Mr Shaw : When we make decisions which unfortunately have employment implications then we have a range of activities that we undertake with the employees in terms of seeking to redeploy and looking for other opportunities and the like within the business; and then, at the end of the day, if we fail to find work for them in the business we support them to move out of the business and into other areas. Mr Clarke could give you some more detail about what we have by way of redundancy and redeployment for general employees. But those Lismore and Townsville call centres and the like were not NBN related. So they were caught up with our general provisions.

CHAIR: So it is copper, HFC or bust, to be blunt? So you are in if you are copper or HFC?

Mr Shaw : You are in if you are within that group of the automatically eligible work group, as defined, plus others , that may be impacted as a consequence of the NBN, yes.

CHAIR: Is there anything in the deed that talks about local employment v ersus this issue of offshoring? Are there any obligations in the retraining deed in that space at all?

Mr Shaw : No.

CHAIR: Okay. Sorry to interrupt.

Mr HUSIC: That is okay. So we invest $100 million in retraining the 6 , 000 or so employees who would be covered by the scope of the RFD, but the key here is , ultimately, isn't it, that they need to be able to work on an NBN network to basically employ the skills that they have been ret rained i n? Correct?

Mr Clarke : They need to work at a fibre network, yes.

Mr HUSIC: S o you only have limited amounts of, say, your V elocity product or whatever, so ultimately it is whether or not they get a chance to work on the NBN?

Mr Shaw : N o, we did deploy other fibre in our network.

Mr HUSIC: As business solutions for, say, larger corporates?

Mr Shaw : Yes, the point to fibre that sort of thing. We also have a fair bit of fibre in terms of the backhaul network and our mobile network . It is not all just the access network.

Mr HUSIC: I understand that in asking this question there will be commercial sensitivities, so I am not asking for detail but , rather , conceptually: what work are you getting out of NBN to be able to employ the skills of people that are retrained?

Mr Shaw : The bulk of the work that we are getting out of NBN at the moment is related to the b uild of the transit network, which is part of the definitive agreements the infrastructure agreement we have got . P art of the MPV cash flow is to deliver that transit network to NBN Co. That is the bulk of our work. We did some work with them around the rollout in Brunswick.

Mr HUSIC: Will that work be able to sustain employment for 6 , 000 employees?

Mr Shaw : The answer is probably no.

Mr HUSIC: Okay. You obviously need to compete to gain contracts. Is Telstra in tending to compete for contracts in the future to carry out some of this work?

Mr Shaw : We stand ready to do whatever we can to assist NBN Co. to expedite the rollout of the network, but we recognise that they do have a commercial imperative and they are bound by procurement obligations. They will deal with that from their side. W e are quite open about our willingness to take on whatever work we can gather from this particular project.

Mr SYMON: Telstra should have an advantage in the area of skilled labour, then, because many of your competitors in that field may not have ready access to skilled labour with fibre knowledge . Would that be true?

Mr Shaw : There are other companies, many of whom we use ourselves, who deploy fibre. Not all our work is done by our in-house workforce; we do use contractors and the like who have these sorts of skills. We are not the sole repository of skills in fibre deployment in Australia.

Mr SYMON: I suppose my point is that they have all been employed up to now doing works. Now there are more works , there is therefore more demand. Wouldn't that put Telstra in a very good position for picking up contracts going forward from the NBN, simply because you have that pool of labour?

Mr Shaw : We would like to think that we can pick up work from NBN by virtue of the value that we provide, including the skills that our employees have.

CHAIR: In light of your answers, the composition of the workforce sounds like an area where , internally , you must be having to make some decisions directly because of the NBN rollout. Is there anything you wanted to put on the record as far as how the workforce would be changing because of that NBN rollout?

Mr Shaw : No. The point we would make about the structure and composition of our workforce is that there are a range of factors that impact on employment decisions in the business. The NBN and the structural change to the industry that the NBN is creating is one of them. There are a whole range of other factors at play within our business at the moment which impact on employment decisions. You mentioned the Lismore and Townsville call centres before. One of the factors behind the business decision to close those facilities is the fact that we are getting a large reduction in the number of complaints coming to our front of house. The TIO, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, released a report yesterday that showed that complaints about our service had dropped by 21 per cent while we were increasing the number of customers quite considerably. The call volumes to front of house changes as a consequence of our getting our processes right and of our customers going online and using our online facilities. That is another factor that also plays out. So it is not a steady situation and then one thing plays out; we have got a range of factors that impact on decisions around employment in the business.

CHAIR: Do you report based on the different roles that people play? Is that publicly available information as to domestic controlled entities and the arrangements you have outside of Australia? Is there a breakdown so there is a handle on just what is happening with the composition of the workforce?

Mr Clarke : We report some basic numbers in our annual report. It does not really give you a breakdown of the types of work that those employees were doing. We reported at the end of June that our domestic full-time staff was 30,203 and then the total workforce, which would include some contractors and some overseas labour as well, was 39,972, but there is no actual breakdown within that of what people do.

CHAIR: That is what I am looking for. Is that something that is commercially sensitive or is that something that you would be able to provide on notice? It is just to help with the question of how many are able to work on things like the retraining process and how many are a bit exposed—for instance, in Lismore. How many are back office, domestic entities, offshore—the whole composition under those broader figures as a bit of a reflection of a major telco in Australia today with a range of pressures on it?

Mr Shaw : If we could take that on notice, we will see what numbers we can provide to you that would go to some of those issues.

CHAIR: Yes, thanks.

Mr HUSIC: In the submissions that were made by the CEPU there was a concern, as they describe it, that the retraining for the NBN related work would effectively deliver up a patchwork of skill sets as opposed to a comprehensive, full qualification. Under the Telstra training plan, is the retraining being done to get people to full qualification level or will they just have a group of skill sets?

Mr Clarke : Under the training, we are obliged to ensure at least 70 per cent of the funding is spent on accredited training, and we are on target to meet that.

Mr HUSIC: So what about the other 30 per cent? You say 70 per cent is on accredited training provided by an RTO; what is the other 30 per cent, then? I am sorry to interrupt you and break your train of thought. Maybe you want to answer that later.

Mr Clarke : When I say we are on track, I mean we exceeded that and we are expecting that a lot of the training, certainly most of the things that we have done to date, the course that we designed, do map to the AQF. What we have said, and what we have said to the CEPU during consultation, is that, effectively, what we are doing is asking: what are the skills that we need people to have? We will retrain people to do the things and we will then map that through to the AQF. Whether or not that actually gives somebody a full qualification, a full certificate III or something, will depend on exactly which modules they do and how many of the competencies they gain.

Mr HUSIC: When you say it depends which modules they do, it is fair to say that you will be the drivers in determining what modules they do. It will not be individual selection, will it? The individual will not go, 'I want to do X, Y, Z.' You will go, 'Well, we think, based on what your current skill set is and what we need you to do, that you will need to do these modules.' Correct?

Mr Clarke : That is correct, yes. But what we have said is that, where an employee, for example, has 90 per cent of the competencies required, we will consider whether or not we are able to effectively top them up so that they can get that qualification.

Mr HUSIC: Okay. So you would see them getting the full competency and being able to go to a certificate III fully? Correct?

Mr Clarke : It is not a decision we have actually made yet. But what we have said is that we understand the position that has been put to us—that surely it makes sense that if somebody has got 90 per cent of the qualification we help them get the 10 per cent—and that is something we will look to make a decision on when we get to that point. What we do accept is that there is some logic in that. I suppose what we are not doing is saying to an individual employee, 'We will train you so that you have everything for this particular certificate. 'That is not the way in which the training is being rolled out. It is being rolled out more on an as needs basis, based on the particular type of work that we have and the skills that we identify they need to be retrained in to do that work.

Mr HUSIC: When we met with Telstra back in April, you had only just submitted the Telstra training plan to the department. From what I can see in the materials provided to us, and this may be included in your opening statement, that was finally agreed to by government on 25 June. We were unable to get specific detail back in April—understandably so, because you were going through the discussions internally. Based on your opening statement, and this comes back to something we touched on earlier, it is very difficult to get a sense of the way this plan will operate. It would be good, bearing in mind your commercial sensitivities, to be able to get from you, and I put this on notice, a much more detailed paper talking about what you intend to do under the plans agreed by government. It would be excellent if you could provide that.

The other thing I do not understand, Mr Clarke or Mr Shaw, is how it works once you have trained these 6,000 in the AEW. This sort of goes to something Mr Symon asked about—geographic location. I have an impression in my mind, which I am happy for you to dispel, that there will be sorts of clumps in the metro areas and then you will have some in regional areas. How will these employees sit within your internal organisation structure? Some will be CFW; some will sit elsewhere in your organisation. For the purpose of being able to properly harness all of the skills that they have now being retrained in, understanding that there is some work you are currently doing under the agreement with Telstra and then maybe work you obtain as a result of contracts you obtain from NBN, do you have a sense of the longevity of their employment? How will these 6,000 continue to be employed? I am having difficulty understanding how you will manage that. They are going to go from copper to fibre—

Mr Shaw : It would depend on the sorts of tasks they might end up doing, to the extent that their role is to migrate a customer. If there is a retail customer who says they want to come with Telstra on the NBN, then there is work to be done on our side. As a consequence, our employees would clearly be involved in that. I understand the essence of your question. I suppose the answer to your question is: it depends, and some of those dependencies are not things that we directly control.

CHAIR: Do you have any future projections on expected works so that you can then draw some conclusions about how many people you are going to need?

Mr Shaw : Could I take that on notice and talk to our operations network people, please?

CHAIR: Sure.

Mr HUSIC: Mr Shaw, my worry is: after we invest the $100 million through this deed and train up these people, then what happens as to the type of work they are actually deployed to do?

Mr Shaw : I think the minister and the NBN Co. have both indicated that they expect significant employment during the rollout of the network, that it will generate significant new jobs. I suppose if we look at the market rather than just Telstra for employment, there are a range of opportunities that will arise as a consequence of the rollout of the network itself. It is not as if, at least in the period covering the rollout of the NBN, this is an area of declining employment across the telco sector. It just may be that individual businesses within that readjust their numbers to reflect their relative roles in that market.

Mr HUSIC: Is one of the KPIs or one of the measurements of this agreement employment related—that is, once they are trained, the number of employees that you will keep as a percentage of that AEW employed gainfully by Telstra over an extended period of time? Let me rephrase that. It was a very clumsy way on my part to frame it. Do you have a KPI that says that, once retrained, you will have X per cent of these employees in the AEW gainfully employed for a certain period of time?

Mr Shaw : Within Telstra?

Mr HUSIC: Correct.

Mr Shaw : I do not believe so, no.

Mr HUSIC: Is there an expectation by government about how long employees will retain employment within Telstra as a result of retraining?

Mr Clarke : Not as far as I am aware. In that context, it is important to remember the dual purpose that the deed is expressed to have, which is (1) to support the retraining of employees within Telstra and (2) to support more broadly the skilling of the workforce to roll out the NBN. With some of the things that we have indicated are dependencies, I suppose, which include how much work we get from NBN, what the roll-out schedule is and things like that, the answers to those questions may point to which one of those purposes is perhaps best served by the retraining.

CHAIR: Just to slightly rephrase your answer, would it not be right to say 'retraining with a purpose' at the end, rather than just 'retraining', as a goal of the $100 million?

Mr Shaw : There certainly is a purpose—

Mr Clarke : It is absolutely with a purpose, yes.

CHAIR: I am not verballing you, but 'with a purpose' at the end—

Mr Shaw : The purpose is so that they either continue employment within Telstra or retrain to operate in the NBN environment.

CHAIR: So they are NBN ready?

Mr Shaw : Yes.

CHAIR: Just to clarify, you have indicated that fewer than 6,000 positions, in your view, will be available within Telstra as part of that?

Mr Shaw : No. I think we said that we could not guarantee the full 6,000. We did not say that it would be less than that; we just cannot guarantee, given what we have in front of us at the moment, that everyone would be retained in the business.

CHAIR: Okay. So did the government ask for anything in this retraining?

Mr Shaw : They certainly did. They asked us to provide retraining for these individuals so that they are skilled to operate and perform work in a fibre world.

CHAIR: But without KPIs on the back end of that? The ask was: 'Can you retrain 6,000 and get them NBN ready? Here is $100 million.'

Mr Shaw : In essence, they were saying—because we will continue to invest our own money in training our people through this period as well—'Here is a Commonwealth contribution of $100 million to assist in the retraining of workers affected by the NBN, such that they are then skilled up to work in a fibre world, either with Telstra or with other people associated with the NBN.'

Mr HUSIC: Can you give us a sense of your measures for success in this training plan other than retraining the 6,000 employees that you have identified in the AEW? How are you measuring your achievements under this plan?

Mr Shaw : Within the terms of the agreement, which is around providing the training to the identified workers. The retraining funding deed requires us to do certain things, provide certain courses, get certain people through those courses and achieve certain qualifications. That is the focus of our actions around the retraining funding deed, but more generally as a business we continue to look for opportunities to grow the business and look for other areas of work and continue to provide an environment in which we can provide worthwhile work for all of our employees. So there is no individual measure of success around all of that. It is around delivering the particulars that we have contracted with the government through the deed and, then, there is our business as usual: providing an environment in which there is worthwhile work for as many employees as possible.

Mr HUSIC: Thank you.

CHAIR: I am just doing the maths on $100 million and 6,000 employees.

Mr Shaw : Those 6,000 are identified as the eligible workforce. There is another component which we do not have a number for which may be impacted by the NBN Co. which would also be caught under this deed.

CHAIR: I would be interested to ask them if they wanted a slice of the $100 million.

Mr HUSIC: I do not understand, sorry. You have an AEW and, in response to questions earlier, you indicated that the volume would stay constant or relatively constant. So who is this other group of employees? What type of employees would be in addition to that?

Mr Shaw : There is provision within the deed that recognises that there might be other groups outside of that eligible group and, therefore, there is capacity to bring them into the retraining funding deed if they are identified as being impacted by the NBN.

Mr HUSIC: So you have said there are 6,000—sorry, this is your fault!

Mr Clarke : 6,500.

Mr HUSIC: I stand corrected on that. How many more are there? We need these figures, obviously, for the report.

Mr Shaw : That number is not known and it is not specified. There is just an acknowledgement that there may be more and therefore they should have access to the retraining.

CHAIR: With my rough maths it is about $80,000 a head. That is a lot of money for retraining per head.

Mr Shaw : I cannot argue with the maths.

CHAIR: You can. Plenty do. I was not good at it!

Mr HUSIC: If there are any changes to the information that we need to have—and I understand the limitations that present themselves to your corporation, but we do need to be able to prepare a report that is based on the best information.

CHAIR: Is it a good spend of the money or not? It is less about Telstra; we are questioning the use of taxpayers' money.

Mr Shaw : I thoroughly understand where you are coming from. All I can say is that there is this category identified but not yet specified in terms of who that may be—

CHAIR: Are we talking hundreds or thousands?

Mr Clarke : I think it is almost impossible to say.

CHAIR: It would be less than 32,000.

Mr Clarke : To pose a hypothetical—and I might pose it in slightly ridiculous terms because at least it gets the point across—if everything transitioned to the NBN, and Telstra had no customers or a very small number of customers as a result, there would obviously then be an additional group of employees outside those who actually work directly on the network who would be impacted by the NBN. It is that notion that is intended to be captured by that. So, whilst it might depend on factors other than how many customers we get, it is intended to reflect that at a time of very significant change for our business and at a time when we cannot actually predict seven or eight years into the future—

CHAIR: There is danger money built into it.

Mr Clarke : there may be other employees who would be impacted in addition to those that we can see now.

Mr Shaw : Which we think is a good thing.

Mr HUSIC: Absolutely. What roles are currently held by the employees you imagine would be affected—just broadly? I do not want specifics.

Mr Clarke : They could be customer service staff working in call centres and in various other areas. It really could be any staff who are impacted by that, to be honest.

CHAIR: So why are my friends from Lismore in?

Mr Shaw : Because, as I think I pointed out to you before, the issues that drove us around Lismore were more because of the reduction in the number of calls coming front of house, because we had reduced our complaints as we got our service better, and the increase in the number of people dealing with us online rather than over the phone. So we had a substantial reduction in the number of calls coming into front of house as a consequence of business improvements.

CHAIR: You have to build a case that it is NBN—

Mr Clarke : Precisely; the redundancy has to be related to the NBN rollout.

CHAIR: Okay. Thanks for giving us another 25 minutes and thanks for waiting 25 minutes for us to turn up after the votes. It is appreciated. I am very conscious of the fact that it happened last time as well. I appreciate your understanding. There were a couple of questions taken on notice. Could we get those back by 9 November? If there are any further questions from members who are not here or from Ed, could you get us a response as quickly as possible?

Mr HUSIC: Just very quickly, your Velocity network is fantastic at 100 megabits per second. This is going to be interesting in terms of NBN Co. The ability to access that 100 megabits per second is dependent upon the router that customers are entitled to obtain when they sign a package; is that correct? Whether or not they can access the full 100 megabits per second download in their home is dependent on the type of router and the capability of that router that you provide as part of the package—correct?

Mr Shaw : I am not certain. We might have to take that on notice. I am not sure whether it is the router or whether it is within the network—the way that we provision the service within the network.

Mr HUSIC: No, it is not the network. It is within customer premises.

CHAIR: Are you answering your own question?

Mr HUSIC: It is my understanding that it is the capability of the router.

CHAIR: Can you take that on notice? We want to report to the parliament by 29 November. If there can be a quick turnaround on some of those questions on notice, that would be greatly appreciated. Is it the wish of the committee that the information tabled by NBN Co. Ltd be received and included in the committee's records as an exhibit? There being no objection, it is so ordered.

Resolved (on motion by Mr Husic ):

That this committee authorises publication, including publication on the parliamentary database, of the transcript of the evidence given before it at public hearing this day.

Committee adjourned at 21:25